Although family members of Eddie Beckett say he was the hardest- and longest-working meat department manager in Hephzibah, they remember him as a kind, loving man who always had time for his children and grandchildren.
Mr. Beckett, 81, died Thursday after suffering a heart attack, according to his wife, Martha Beckett, 63.
"Just being with children was his greatest joy," Mrs. Beckett said. "I loved him with all my heart."
On the day he died, Mr. Beckett was on his way to see a school honors assembly featuring his grandchildren.
Leaving an inspection of Jerry's Groceries meat department to other co-workers, Mr. Beckett told them he had to "see about his grandbabies," said Mr. Beckett's stepdaughter, Debra Eastmead, 43, of Augusta.
Mr. Beckett, who underwent triple bypass surgery in 1990, collapsed in the schoolyard, Mrs. Beckett said.
Born Nov. 29, 1922, to a coal-mining family in Crab Orchard, W.Va., Mr. Beckett sometimes kept a comb and a mirror with him as a child.
"He loved his hair," said Mrs. Eastmead, who added that her stepfather even brought the comb and mirror to church.
Mr. Beckett served 3 years in the Army during World War II, said his stepson, Steadman Crawford, 39, of Laurel, Md.
While stationed at Fort Gordon, Mr. Beckett was a cook, a skill he excelled at during his 54-year career as a meat cutter and manager at the Colonial and Big Star grocery stores in downtown Augusta after his Army years, Mr. Crawford said.
Mr. Beckett went to Jerry's Groceries in Hephzibah in 1982, where he worked until his death, Mrs. Beckett said.
Family members say Mr. Beckett always thought of others before himself.
"I just think what a gracious man he was," Mrs. Eastmead said. "He always thought of others. He never saved an ounce of energy for himself."
"I don't think there was anybody who ever met him that didn't like him," Mr. Crawford said.
Mr. Beckett is survived by Mrs. Beckett; Mrs. Eastmead; Mr. Crawford; daughter Brenda Heffner, of Augusta; and brothers Wesley Beckett, William Beckett, James Beckett and Dempsey Beckett and sister Joanne Beckett, all of Crab Orchard, W.Va.
Mr. Beckett also is survived by eight grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.
Services will be held at 3 p.m. Monday at the DeLoach-Kennedy Funeral Home Chapel in Hephzibah.
Reach Kate Lewis at (706) 823-3215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.